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The nostalgic remediation of cinema in Hugo and Paprika

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This article addresses the ways in which two recent works of digital cinema, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011) and Satoshi Kon’s Paprika (2006) revive classical (photochemical) cinema through what is termed ‘nostalgic remediation’. Rather than seeing nostalgia as ironic, ahistorical pastiche, as in Fredric Jameson’s description of postmodern nostalgia films, this article asks: how can we understand nostalgia as part of our own lived, affective experience of film within today’s new media ecology? To answer this question, it draws on theories of post-celluloid adaptation and remediation to demonstrate the ambivalent relationships between historical and current media platforms seen in digital cinema. These ambivalences, it is argued, reflect the broader anxieties and aspirations that arise in times of technological and social transition, such as the changes brought about by the digitization of media at the┬áturn of the twenty-first century. Hugo and Paprika perfectly illustrate the delicate tension of nostalgic remediation, which shifts between transcending celluloid cinema and longing for its return; between the recovery and loss of cinema’s historical memory; and between the concepts of old and new media themselves.
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Keywords: animation; digital cinema; melancholia/mourning; new media; nostalgia; post-cinematic adaptation; remediation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Wilfrid Laurier University

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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